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The importance of documentation for your disability claim

Facing a long-term illness or a lengthy recovery from an injury can be frustrating. Adding to the frustration can be your inability to work to support yourself and meet the expenses of your medical needs. If your doctor expects you will be dealing with this condition for at least a year and you are unable to work during that time, you may qualify for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration.

Agents at the SSA spend a lot of time and resources dealing with fraudulent applications for benefits. For this reason, the process of applying for disability benefits is complex, and the odds of obtaining approval are against you. If you plan to seek disability benefits, you will want to have every advantage, and that includes thorough documentation of your condition and treatment.

What information will help my claim?

Disability benefits are for those whose medical conditions prevent them from holding gainful employment. This does not mean merely that you cannot do the job you did before your illness or injury, but that you are unable to do any work that could support you financially. You will need to demonstrate this with as much proof as possible. Having doctors and specialists who will confirm your disability is important to completing these critical steps in the application process:

  • See if your condition is on the SSA's list of approved impairments, or if your combination of symptoms may qualify.
  • Gather your medical records going as far back as the time of your accident or when your symptoms began.
  • Include information about any tests, screenings, specialists, hospital or emergency room visits, therapists, and counselors you have visited.
  • Keep a log of specific ways your condition prevents you from meeting your daily responsibilities.
  • Ask others, such as your family, friends and coworkers, to write a summary of how they have witnessed your medical condition impair your abilities to perform your routine tasks or live a normal life.
  • Ask for a written evaluation from a California vocational expert.
  • Review all your evidence to be sure there is no contradictory information.
  • Be prepared to explain in an SSA hearing, without using hyperbole or being untruthful, how your disability affects your life and restricts your ability to work.

This may seem like an overwhelming amount of documentation to gather, but it is critical that you use every resource for obtaining the benefits you need. Among those resources may be a skilled attorney who has experience helping people like you who are seeking financial assistance from the SSA.

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